But as competition increases and customers grow increasingly dissatisfied with its high prices, Teradata, a division of NCR, faces challenges to sustain a strategy championed by Hurd, who left NCR earlier this month to head Hewlett-Packard Co.
Hurd, who joined NCR in 1980, is credited with steering the division away from life as a PC and general-purpose platform provider. Under Hurd, Teradata invested heavily in driving business intelligence deep into data warehousing.
Teradata will continue down that path with the release of Teradata Warehouse 8.1 in the second half of this year.
The release will feature resource management enhancements enabling self-management of CPU processing and I/O resources. Version 8.1s improvements should help foster grid computing models and ease storage administration burdens on database administrators, said Stephen Brobst, chief technology officer of Teradata.
"One of the key things we are working on is convergence of data warehousing and real-time enterprise. Make the organization smart, which is essentially driving business intelligence to have access to up-to-date information," Brobst said.
Meanwhile, Teradatas profits continue to soar. According to a recent relational DBMS study by market researcher IDC, of Framingham, Mass., Teradatas revenues jumped from $299.4 million in 2002 to $389.6 million in 2004.
Many Teradata customers said they are unconcerned by Hurds move to HP. "Were going to be in that heterogeneous multisupplier world forever, and I would love to see [Teradata] keep playing in that environment," said Bonnie Henn-Pritchard, assistant vice president of technology services at BNSF Railway Co., in Fort Worth, Texas.
Other customers, including Wayne Grimes, manager of customer care operations for IT at the U.S. Postal Service, said Teradatas prices are forcing them to consider alternatives.
"We have dollar impacts because [Teradata] is an expensive solution, and were looking at other alternatives to lower the cost of this entire environment," said Grimes, based in Raleigh, N.C.
"Right now, we have almost 30TB of data in our data warehouse. For fiscal 2006 projects we have in the queue, if we do what they talk about we will potentially double that in the 50TB to 55TB range, and we cant afford that," Grimes said.
Grimes said buying additional Teradata and NCR nodes is not an option.
To maintain its lead over relational DBMS vendors Oracle Corp., IBM and Microsoft Corp., Teradata must push its ability to quickly build a data warehouse in a packaged BI approach, since the other companies force customers to set up on their own, said Donald Feinberg, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn.
"With Teradata, they supply the entire solution, so you can drop it in and have it run. I think thats the transition that Mark as head of the company was responsible for," said Feinberg. "I think [Hurd] was essential in setting [Teradatas] course, but I dont know that he is essential for staying on it."